Mark “Chopper” Read is probably the most infamous criminal in Australian history.
He was a larger-than-life character who slowly became a part of the country’s identity. A violent and unpredictable criminal who somehow managed to make the Australian public revere him through his books, comedy shows and public appearances.
Read was responsible for the death and torture of many underground figures, his acts of violence were often as spontaneous as they were disturbing.
He was also married… twice. The infamous Chopper Read was husband and father.
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Read was born in Melbourne on November 17, 1954. His father was a Korean war veteran and his mother was devout Seventh Day Adventist.
The career criminal spent most of his childhood moving between foster homes, orphanages and psychiatric hospitals and in his late teens he entered the criminal underworld. Read joined the “Surrey Road Gang” and was soon a well known street fighter.
Between the ages of 20 and 38, Read spent just 13 months outside jail, a little over a year as a free man.
During his time behind bars, he inflamed a gang war inside Pentridge Prison’s infamous H Division. He then infamously made one of his fellow inmates cut off both his ears so he would be transferred out of the wing.
In 1982, Read expressed concerns that he would never be able to leave his violent past behind and create a new life for himself.
“I don’t want to get married, or raise a brood of children, or lead a normal life,” he said.
“I’ve got no interest in that.”
But when he was released in 1991, he did just that.
Read moved to Tasmania and attempted to live a crime free life with his partner, Margaret Cassar. Cassar famously said she never knew “Chopper”, only Mark.
“I see a very gentle person and I see a lot of warmth in him where others may not have been able to reach,” she said.